The Way It Was

I'm in the home stretch of writing an article about refrigerators, and have been learning about things like linear compressors, cyclopentane and medium-temperature glycol. Heady stuff, yes? So I am especially appreciative of this 1931 advertisement that celebrates the science behind the humble [and might I add homely] fridge. The housewife and the lab technician drawing open the drapes of consumer ignorance to reveal the glorious Monitor Top, resplendent—and large—against a blazing backdrop that evokes nothing less than the Creation.

And now back to dual-capillary energy valves. Sigh.

Culinary Cabinet

An elaborate piece of craftsmanship, this. It's a baking center; note the rolling pin storage smack in the center of the piece, flanked by a drawer and double pull-out cutting boards. Screen inserts in the natural wood doors, riveted edge bands and corners in contrasting metals, hand-distressing—it might border on overkill, but nonetheless, I think it could be a pastry chef's dream.

Roll: Away

I know there are plenty of serviceable paper towel holders on the market; some of them are even well designed. But this built-in solution to the unsightly roll is genius, wholly worthy of forfeiting a drawer.

Out of Line

Well, Mr. van der Rohe wouldn't be too thrilled with this wavy sink design, but that's neither here nor there. I like how the front of the Just sink is contoured to accommodate the body of the user[s]. Installing it on a striped wall is a neat visual trick; it would be neater still if it had been centered between the grout lines of the floor tile [Ja, Mies?]

We Interrupt This Blog... let you know that at the kind invitation of Stacy Garcia, I'll be hosting the venerable, vibrant and veracious #kbtribechat. The topic of discussion is near & dear to us all: kitchen appliances of the major kind. The chat begins on Wednesday, 28 March at 2:00PM EDT/NYC time; sign in at Please drop by and add your comments. Or lurk quietly and just read the feed. It's all good.

Warm and Cool

Just a couple days ago, temps were in the 70s; tonight we're in for a freeze. I think I've found an appropriate kitchen to reflect this schizophrenic spring weather: high-ceilinged and sunny, with a countertop fireplace to combat any loitering chills.

Glad Men

In 1957, it must have been the ultimate corner-office perk: to suavely swing open the faux-wood-paneled door of the mini-fridge, grab a cold one and toast the close of a deal. Of course, the Executive 500 would still be a status symbol in today's workplace [although it looks a little large for the typical cube farm], as would its residential counterpart, the Party Port. Grab a floor pillow, spin some platters and pass the Pigs in Blankets!

Appliances [!] for Spring

Perhaps I'm taking this spring-has-sprung conceit too far, but I couldn't resist Just One More Post on the theme. Appliance manufacturer Alpes reconfigures the familiar fridge, oven and dishwasher into freestanding furniture pieces, perching them on legs and minimizing their bulk. The whirly, abstract pattern [very vernal, yes?] that fronts the cabinets was designed by Karim Rashid for laminate company Abet Laminati.

Tile for Spring

While I'm tidying up the heuchera and looking for hosta sproutings, this delicate mosaic inspires with its fantasy-garden motif. The Climbing Vine design is new from tile visionary Sara Baldwin.

An aside: Tomorrow, our spring fling will be enlivened by visits to the kitchen and bath contingent at the Architectural Digest show. From my point of view, this expo has certainly acquired some traction in the premium K/B realm over the years [a trend worth noting, KBIS folks]. The show is open through 25 March, so check it out if you're in the NYC nabe.

Faucet for Spring

How quickly a theme takes hold. From yesterday's outward-oriented kitchen to today's flower-faucet, we're celebrating spring at KBCULTURE. Designed by David Vercelli, this fitting might not be the most eco-conscious model on the market, but for this occasion, let's focus on the poetic rather than the pragmatic, shall we? Turn on the water, and it fills the vase until it overflows via the spout. To empty, lift the central rod that opens the drain.

Kitchen for Spring

Even though our winter was a mild one, I couldn't be more happy about the imminent advent of spring; hence, this seasonal space. The translucent cabinet that spans the window actually draws attention to the scene outside; without it to add dimension and color to the elevation, we'd just be looking at [or through] a fairly generic window-wall. Wrapping the cabinet in green glass tile further encourages the eye to linger and take in the contrasting landscape beyond.


From the perspective of our tweeting times, Fred Maytag's 1957 communications strategy—sending his dealers telegrams to announce the release of a new washing machine—is both eye-opening and nostalgic STOP I can just imagine thousands of swift-footed Western Union fellows being dispatched to mom-and-pop appliance showrooms across the country, bearing the latest product spin STOP On the upside, recipients of Maytag's cables never had to contend with Error 403 notices, jittery animated GIF files or unyielding TOO LONG admonishments STOP

Cabinet Post

I'm noticing a gradual transformation of the traditional pantry cabinet taking place; kind of a back-to-basics move. Those towering, deep pull-out units—engineering marvels, in their own way—that were standard issue in so many kitchen of years past are now giving way to full-height, side-hinged compartments. What nice about this design it that it can break free of the main run of cabinets both physically and stylistically, bringing a welcome variety and lightness to the kitchen.

Clean Up

How often do you find a towel warmer that isn't tubular? [Too often, those round bars seem to encourage slippage, more than storage—at least that's the case in my home.] The squared-off design of this unit promises to keep towels toasty and in their place.

Fine Lines

The Groove family of tile imposes a natty graphic style on what's essentially a hand-crafted product, resulting in a new-meets-old sensibility that I find quite appealing. The collection—which is offered in a passel of colors—was designed by Barbara Barry.

Rise and Shine

Although I'm a bit bleary with the changeover to daylight savings time, I am exceedingly buoyed by the coming of spring. Looking at this bright kitchen, with its view of sunlit treetops reflected on the glass counter, sweeps away much of winter's grey mentality for me. On a more practical note, keeping the work surface of the island to a minimum reinforces its role as a cooking station; while I'm doubtlessly projecting too much into the design, this seems to discourage lingering in the kitchen, and gently diverts guests outdoors.

We Interrupt This Blog... let you know about a fabulous panel discussion that's taking place on 14 March in Milan. Sponsored by several high-profile bathroom manufacturers [Catalano, Dornbracht, Geberit, Kaldewei, Karol and Tubes] and Ma & Ma, an impressive roster of A-list designers [Matteo Thun, Sieger Design, Roberto Palomba, and more] are gathering together to discuss how art, social factors and commerce will combine in the development of the bath of the future. If you'll be in the neighborhood, contact for information.

Johnny Appleseed—Really

The spring equinox is just eleven days away [Me, watching the calendar? Certainly not....] and it's time to start planning the garden in earnest. In 1964, in a novel move, Eljer made it possible to culture a few seedlings on the toilet-tank lid. Yes. Molded into the ceramic was a planter compartment, complete with drainage holes. If you're smitten with this unique item, the model number is 5590; you may be pleased to know that a casual online search turned up a few of them in various colors.

Light Wave

At this risk of sounding a bit smug, this tablet-like device is most likely not what you think it is. The Sigma80 is, in the language of the wall-hung toilet world, an actuator plate; in other words, it's a flushing mechanism. But unlike the typical push-button models, this offers completely touch-free operation. Waving a hand across either the short or the long light stripe triggers a half- or a full-flush, respectively. A winner of this year's iF Product Design Award, it was developed by Tribecraft.

Think Tank

Architects and designers frequently use their home as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas on a full-scale basis, testing colors and tweaking lights. It's rare these spaces are seen by the public; understandable, given their work-in-progress status. One can only speculate what Humberto Campana was contemplating in his very blue bath—but this may be a clue.

Standing Tall

This long-necked beauty—that's right, I'm talking about a faucet—might seem more suited to a well-appointed spa-bath than a workaday kitchen. While the form is strong, it's not not harsh, thanks to the slight outward angle of the spout.

Not Less Than Perfect

When a design is as spare as this kitchen, the degree of precision in every detail—from walls plumb and straight, to corners plastered to a knife-edge, to cabinet doors planed and hung with exactitude—can't be a goal as much as a reality. A tip of the KBCULTURE hat to the designers and craftsmen who commit to having a zero tolerance for error.

No Contest

Somehow, this ad seems analogous to the extraordinarily mild, globally-warmed winter we've had this year; to really make that point, I'd insert a comma between the two words of the headline.

But I digress.

The photojournalistic approach to the subject is such a departure from the happy-family-in-full-color-clamoring-at-the-maw-of-the-overstuffed-fridge school of advertising that was typical of selling appliances in 1968. Indeed, it aspires to emit a bit of the brash charisma that characterized that year's heavyweight boxing champ, Muhammad Ali.

Grey Matters

The looping floor tile, tailored window shade, even the two-tone radiator: I don't think a single opportunity was squandered creating this shadow-and-light composition. Skillfully varying the weight of the bathroom's silvery grey and white elements creates a serene—but hardly soporific—space.